Australian Council on Children and the Media

Mean Girls

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Short takes

Not recommended under 8, PG to 15 (Themes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Mean Girls
  • a review of Mean Girls completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 14 July 2004.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 10 While there is nothing particularly scary or violent in this movie, due to its content it is not recommended for children under 10.
Children aged 10-15 Children 10-15 will need parental guidance to view this movie.
Children over the age of 15 Children over 15 should be okay to see this movie with or without parental guidance.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Mean Girls
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Mature themes
Length 97 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Cady Heron has led an exciting but sheltered life, being brought up and home schooled by her research scientist parents in Africa. That all changes however when at the age of 16, the family move back to America and Cady goes to a public high school. She gets a major culture shock when she finds the school segregated into various groups such as the Asian Nerds, the Cool Asians, the Sexually Active Bambies and, high in the pecking order, the Plastics. This is a group of three girls, Regina, the queen bee and her workers Gretchen and Karen who are all in love with themselves.

The first person to befriend Cady is gothic Janis, reputed to be a lesbian, who lets Cady in on the social hierarchy at the school. Janis used to be best friends with Regina in Middle School but they fell out and are now enemies. When Regina decides to invite Cady into the Plastics which is such an honour, Janis sees this as a way to sabotage the group. Together with friend Damien, who’s gay, Janis and Cady devise ways to bring down the Plastics.

Unfortunately things start to go awry when Cady, having infiltrated the group, becomes as ‘plastic’ as the others. Things start to get complicated when Cady starts to like Aaron, an ex-boyfriend of Regina’s and Regina can’t let that happen. However things take a definite turn for the worse when Regina gives her poison pen diary to the Principal and accuses Cady of writing it.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie:

  • There is a lot of verbal abuse and insults thrown around
  • In her imagination Cady leaps onto Regina and attacks her viciously
  • The exposure of Regina’s diary causes two girls to start fighting, which escalates into a huge group fight.
  • Regina is hit by a bus (not shown) and left with spinal injuries
  • Three other girls are shown to be hit by a bus – but aren’t really.
  • Regina takes up hockey and sets out on the hockey field attacking everyone in her way with her stick.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

There’s nothing particularly scary in this movie, although the behaviour of the ‘mean girls’ could be quite disturbing to some children.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

There’s nothing particularly scary in this movie, although the behaviour of the ‘mean girls’ could be quite disturbing to some children.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

There’s nothing particularly scary in this movie, although the behaviour of the ‘mean girls’ could be quite disturbing to some children.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

None of concern

Product placement

Coke

Sexual references

There are a lot of sexual references:

  • Janis is referred to as a dyke
  • During Sex Education the teacher tells them that if they have sex they will get pregnant and die, and that if they touch each other they will get Chlamydia and die
  • the teacher hands out condoms to the class
  • Cady gets asked if she wants to have sex with Jason
  • A dog chews on Regina’s mother’s breast
  • Regina says she was ‘half a virgin’ when she met Aaron
  • Regina’s mother enters her bedroom with drinks but finds Regina making out with a boy on her bed, so offers them a condom instead
  • A teacher has an affair with a student
  • A couple in the projection room apparently have sex (not actually shown)
  • One of the female students says that she has to use jumbo tampons because she has a wide set vagina and that doesn’t mean she’s not a virgin.
  • There’s also a lot of name calling of sluts, whores and fat virgin.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is no nudity but the teacher takes her top off when Cady spills her coffee over her and she accidentally removes her t-shirt with her jumper leaving her in just a bra.

Sexual activity is restricted to heavy kissing, including kissing by two girls.

Use of substances

There are some references to alcohol and other drugs in this movie:

  • There is use of alcohol at a party and Cady vomits after drinking too much.
  • Janis is accused of being on crack
  • Cady’s teacher Sharon Norberry admits to pushing herself and that she wants to push Cady to do better. This is translated into the diary as Ms. Norberry’s being a drug pusher.

Coarse language

There is frequent use of the words bitch, slut, and whore.

There is occasional use of the following:

  • oh my God
  • arse
  • pissed off.

In a nutshell

The take home message from the movie is that young people shouldn’t be afraid to be themselves.

Values parents may wish to encourage include:

  • self reflection
  • not to follow blindly
  • it’s okay to be smart.

Values parents may wish to discourage include:

  • name calling
  • bitchiness
  • vindictiveness
  • bullying and harassment
  • irresponsible behaviour.

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